30 October 2004

Well, I'm back (sort of) although only promising intermittent service for a few days. But I've got a 'themed' extravaganza on the boil that will hopefully be fucking sensational.


In case you missed it in the comments box, Chantelle Fiddy (author of the Muzik Roll-Deep feature that I referred to) popped by to say hello. Chantelle has her own World Of Grime blog. She's 24, a journalist by trade and appears to be absolutely in the thick of the whole East London scene, reporting back from street (or should I say 'road') level, with some cute 'behind the scenes' jpegs too. It's a must read for anyone interested in the latest news and rumours from the 'bashment' zone. Respec'

Chantelle is a bit less enthusiastic about FWD/Rephlex stuff, however. In particular, she's a bit miffed that they chose to appropriate the term 'Grime':

"Personally I've never got my head around why Rephlex called their compilation Grime other than to cash in on the buzz word. This FWD/Croydon sound you refer to, also known as Dubstep has little to do with grime."

Putting the case for the defense, I had an e-mail from Rephlex artist Ed DMX who, among other things, put forward his own opinion on this matter:

"I reckon Rephlex called their compilation "grime" in the knowledge that
really the style was more commonly known as "dubstep" and that grime was a
bit different.... but with the belief that the scene was still small & new
enough that they could re-define it a bit so that to the wider world "grime"
might come to mean those kinda tunes on the rephlex comp.

because "grime" is a cool name for a style of music whereas dubstep sounds
silly, like a form of drum & bass from 1997.

probably confusing for a few people but there you go.... there's probably
only 1000 people who care what the difference is between grime, dubstep,
sublo etc..... "

I like the way Ed brings a sense of perspective at the end there. Yeah, let's not have a big fight about a little five-letter word, eh?

As for "Grime 2"...I'm digging it, y'know...but it's not blowing my head off like volume 1 did. It seems to be accentuating more of the exotic/ethnic spooky stuff at the expense of that hard urban edge. The riffs are definitely less prominent, either muted, reduced to sub-bass vibrations or even completely absent. There's some really interesting stuff here, like Digital Mystick's "CR7 Chamber" which is a sort of gamelan piece, but I can't help feeling that it's getting a little too polite and world-music-ish. Way better is Mark One's "One Way" album, which is just slaying me at the moment. This is the sort of cold, paranoid shit one would expect from a guy with Sheffield roots. That oscillator riff on "Cyberstate" is like an icey blast of wind sending shivers down my spine. There's a bit of a Belgian-horrorcore vibe too - check those menacing orchestral stabs on "Anger Management". Surely this is the way fwd...when's K-Punk gonna review it? Mark'll explain it all far better than I can...


A belated message of sadness that John is no longer with us. I won't pretend that I listened to his show religiously (although I did at one time) and I probably didn't even like about 50% of the stuff he played, but it's what he represented that will be most sorely missed. John was the ultimate example of 'subverting the system from within', a man who lived by his own playlists and convictions which is still a pretty rare occurrence in the mainstream media. We needed him now more than ever. Rest in Peace...

18 October 2004


My final post for a while, as I'm off on my travels shortly and will be off-line until at least the weekend of 30th October. It'll do me good, I reckon.


I've been listening to some MP3's that purport to be Aphex Twin's "Analord 10". I've got "Track 1" (5m57s), a live version of same (6m17s) and part of "Track 2", which cuts out suddenly at 2m13s. Don't ask me where I got them. They might be authentic, if so there's been a massive betrayal somewhere down the line. They sound pretty good, in the same way that Ceephax Acid Crew sound pretty good. It's minimal, driving Acid Tekno. Track 2 has maybe a little more 'character' than track 1. I'm not prepared to post up any of these tracks here, cos they might be for real and I don't want to piss on anyone's bonfire. I believe in Rephlex and I know that some of their people occasionally read this blog (in fact I had a nice e-mail exchange with Ed DMX just this weekend) and I'd rather they viewed me as a friendly supporter. I know I've uploaded a couple MP3's from the Rephlex catalogue in the past, but that's more to encourage people to go out and buy the stuff. I can't think of any way that Rephlex would profit from me posting these particular tracks.


So rather than giving away someone else's music for free, I'm gonna give away some of my own. Not that there's much sacrifice there, as my music isn't worth the price of the DAT tapes it's stored on. I have zero commercial profile. Whether that's due to lack of ambition or lack of talent, you can decide for yourselves.

Below are four tracks recorded during the year of our lord 1995, when I was really into doing minimal, driving Acid Tekno. Nearest comparison is probably with some of the early Kosmic Kommando/Universal Indicator stuff. If I'd made these tracks a couple of years earlier, maybe they would've been releasable. But things were moving so fast back then, that by '95 the level of production/sophistication had already moved on rather dramatically. It was the era of Autechre, Neo Detroit, Drum'n'Bass etc.

Although I consider the sampler to be my primary instrument of expression, that period was the only time when I was working exclusively with analogue synths. I was earning good money at the time and could afford to buy myself some of those fabled Roland machines that I'd lusted after for so long - the TR-808 drum machine, TB-303 acid bassline, Juno 60, SH-09 etc - and indulge my passion for pure analogue composition. Later, when I fell on harder times, I ended up selling them all again. The 808 went to Portishead's Adrian Utley. I don't follow his career, but if anyone's got any of his stuff that sounds like it's got 808 beats on it, chances are that's my old baby!

I may have played some of these tunes to my friends at the time, but this was essentially music made by One for an audience of One. I was locked into a self-sustaining feedback loop of expression/appreciation that was oblivious to all external possibilities. Actually, a couple of tracks from that time did end up on an underground compilation from a little Yorkshire-based cassette label called "Antenna", whom I got to know via an advert they placed in one of the classified sections. It was run by this guy called Adrian, who as far as I can remember was the only person who ever showed any interest in my Acid stuff.

I think these tracks probably sound better now then they did in 1995. Then again, maybe they just sound like shit. Judge for yourself. All I can say in their defense is that they were all made with the best intentions and come from the bottom of my heart.

MP3: Ghostfloor

MP3: Earstalker

MP3: Bibble

MP3: Polymorph

See you all in November!

17 October 2004


Continuing with what is rapidly turning into 'mid-80's' week here at Gutterbreakz, and with reference to Uncarved's recent post on 'The lamentable condition of charity shops' , here's a little something I picked-up on a recent charity shop trawl:

MP3: Raze - Jack The Groove

Raze - Jack The Groove (Champion Records, 1986)

There's still plenty of fun to be had in Charity Shop land, it just depends how high you raise the bar of expectation. I've never been into that whole 'shopping for profit' trip. This one cost me 99p and that's probably all it's worth. It's not an import - just the standard UK issue, licensed through Champion Records. For me, it's just about finding some cool old skool relics...either new discoveries or nostalgic reminders of days gone by. I've never been concerned with labels, catalogue numbers, 1st or 2nd pressings etc. I would consider Woebot to be a Record Collector. I'm just a Music Collector. The format is of secondary importance - which is probably why I've taken to MP3 collecting so easily. For ease of access and storage it's an unbeatable format! This attitude goes back to my childhood comic-book collecting days, when I was perfectly happy to buy UK reprints if there were no US originals around (which is why my last post was in black & white!).

So, onto "Jack The Groove"...this is one of those tunes that I'd completely forgotten existed.
I think it was Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk's "Love Can't Turn Around" which was the first Chicago House tune to chart in the UK, in August 1986. But, brilliant though it was, it was essentially a vocal 'song-based' high-production track with a thumping House beat under it. I think that "Jack The Groove" was possibly the first proper 'Jack Track' to chart over here, just sneaking in at #57 in November 1986. But it would appear that January 1987 was when the 'Jacking' virus really went overground in the UK, as it re-entered the charts on the 3rd, peaking at #20. This was quickly followed by Steve 'Silk' Hurley hitting the #1 spot with "Jack Your Body".

"Jack The Groove" is seriously fucking brutal. Not in an aggressive sense, more in it's basic, almost amateurish production values. The main 808 backbeat features an incredibly stiff snare pattern - the nearest comparison would be with LFO's "Track 4" from four years later. The busy latin percussion loops alleviate the monotony slightly, but you still can't escape the overpowering regularity of that stinging snare! Then there's that crudely effective 2-bar bassline - christ, you just don't hear b-lines like that anymore! The hand-played vocal sample is about a million light years behind Mantronik's production levels. Brilliant skittering handclap fills tho' - with just the right amount of echo. I really fucking rate this tune - like all the best early Chicago tracks, it sounds great despite and possibly because of it's primitive hand-made aesthetics.

I love the whole idea of 'Jack Trax'. I was pleased to see at least two examples of the word 'Jack' being used in song titles this year - DJ Hell's "Let No Man Jack" and Detroit Grand Pubahs' " Nurse Hurse Jack Move". Time for the big revival. Although it was undoubtedly a phrase cynically concocted by Pete Waterman to appeal to 'the kids', I'd still rather Jack than (listen to) Fleetwood Mac. It's got nothing to do with musical prowess, it's simply a matter of affirming one's Cultural Identity, which - the more I think about it - is what this blog is all about...

15 October 2004



The new Dissensus forum is already paying dividends by clarifying the meaning of the term 'Bashment', who's Dancehall origins have been appropriated by the Grime scene. So now I can say with some measure of confidence that the more MC-orientated Grime emanating from the East London crews (which I examined in Part 1) can also be referred to as Bashment. Though where that leaves the instrumental tracks by Wiley is puzzling. Are they simply designed to be ready-made backgrounds for freestyle MC battles? I think he said something once to the effect the riffs are arranged in such a way that they emulate the flow of an MC...

Today I'm looking at the scene previously referred to as 'Rephlex Grime', but which is also known as 'Forward' (FWD) or possibly the 'Rinse FM' sound or even the 'Croydon' sound. These titles, which are derived from a rave, a radio station and a place, help to explain how this particular school of Grime came to be. I was aware of Croydon's importance as the home of Plasticman, but was still confused over how this particular strain had coalesced into being. At first I thought it was a fabrication, a pseudo-scene concocted by the boys at Rephlex in a bid to create a buzz for their latest signings. But in fact it seems to have developed naturally through the traditional routes over time. It's amazing - I only live a couple of hours drive away yet always feel that the whole London scene is some impossibly exotic, unfathomable, cross-cultural babble of ideas that usually only reaches me when it's hit the major-label-five-album-deal-deluxe-CD-packaging stage. It's only now, via the constant flow of blog-reportage, that I'm able to even comprehend the vague outlines (battlelines?) of a scene that's still going through it's growing pains. Why don't I just follow the scene in my own neck of the woods? Well, with few notable exceptions (Mark Stewart, Tricky) I've never been interested in the Bristol scene. I find it too stiflingly cool and sophisticated. It's no surprise that the biggest acts end up being coffee-table favourites around the world. Yawnsville. Shitmat could never have come from Bristol. But I digress...


So, to recap, earlier this year Rephlex Records released a compilation called "Grime", which confused the hell out of me, having only recently deduced that Grime was this thing that Roll Deep was doing. Certain key elements were in place; the hollow square wave bass, the mutated UKG beats, the sparse arrangements. But it was darker, with less melodic flair, no MC's, but an added sheen of production that fit more into my Warp/Rephlex mentality. Maybe hints of the more paranoid strand of mid-90's Drum 'n' Bass like Photek's "Hidden Camera" EP. Perhaps, via the use of ethnic and authoratarian samples, a tenuous link to my beloved Cabaret Voltaire? Although I certainly enjoy 'Bashment' Grime, this 'FWD' Grime sound was more immediately recognisable as my sort of thing. Even without the anticipatory excitement generated by K-Punk's review, I immediately loved it (and you might like to read the frantic comments box activity that accompanied that post for more insights). I won't go into the biographies of the three artists featured, as you can get all that from Rephlex.

MP3: Slaughter Mob - Saddam

This is from an EP on Soulja which came out at the end of last year. The opening cut, "Dub Weapon" would subsequently feature on the Grime compilation. I felt an immediate attraction to Slaughter Mob's sound - razor sharp beats with a dubby swarm of paranoid/paniky dialogue samples and a claustrophobic Dread atmosphere. There's an organic fluidity to their sound, a certain 'swing' factor to the rhythms that really clicks with me. The eastern-tinged sample that opens this track sounds very similar to one used by Mu-Ziq many moons ago...

MP3: Plasticman - Industrial Graft

This one is from the Grime compilation. I particularly like it because I'm convinced he's sampled and messed with the beat from Cabaret Voltaire's "Trust In The Lord" (and if anyone would like to compare, I'll happily post up the original for comparison purposes). Plus it's got such a relentless bassline - really nasty and stiff.

MP3: Mark One - Ready For It (featuring Goldfinger)

From his brand new debut album proper on Planet Mu. I was sort of aware it was coming, but then I read Kid Shirt's review and immediately headed to Bleep and downloaded the fucker quick as a flash. The potential of those four tracks on the Grime comp are totally fulfilled on "One Way". Interestingly, there are several MC collaborations of which this one, featuring Goldfinger, is currently on heavy rotation at Gutterbreakz HQ. So the line between FWD/Bashment is starting to evaporate?

MP3: Kode 9 & Daddi G - Sign Of The Dub

"Grime 2" is imminent from Rephlex, featuring three more artists, including Kode 9. Info and biographies here. Judging by the generous clips available at the Kode 9 blog, this is going to be another fascinating chapter in the ongoing saga. For now though, here's the amazing beatless A-side of his Hyperdub 10", which forges ahead into whole new territories. Maybe I'm being a bit naughty posting it here, but fuck it - this feels too important to miss.


Grime available at Amazon and Warpmart (vinyl only)

Grime 2 available to pre-order at Amazon

Mark One's One Way available at Amazon, Warpmart and for download at Bleep

Kode 9's 10" is available at Warpmart

14 October 2004


Today's main post is over at The Idiot's Guide To Dreaming, but here's a little historical appendix.

Punk and Reggae were united almost from the start. The similar aims of protest and underclass rebellion, coupled with DJ Don Letts playing roots 'n' dub tracks at the earliest punk events (mainly due to lack of actual punk records at that time) ensured that these two genres were entwined. One of the most fruitful side effects came when the new wave began applying 'version' techniques, like Mikey Dread messing with The Clash on "Sandinista" - really taking their sound forward. Here's a couple of Dennis Bovell's righteous post-punk mash-ups.

MP3: The Pop Group - 3.38

The flip of their first single sees the Pop Group scrambled into an hallucinatory wash of jagged guitar scrapes and abrasive drones. Although completely left out of the party, vocalist Mark Stewart must surely have approved...this is like a test-run for his future solo productions with Adrian Sherwood.

MP3: The Slits - Liebe And Romanze (slow version)

Here, the usually sharp-as-a-switchblade Slits melt into a soft-focus haze of ponderous instrumental experimentation, invigorated by Bovell's inspired work at the mixing desk. I'd really love to hear Martin Hannant's Joy Division dubs mixes that Peter Hook once mentioned, but I think the tapes got lost or wiped or something. Damn!

13 October 2004


In case you haven't already been there, the new discussion forum Dissensus is here.

God, why didn't someone think of that before? Hopefully, this will be a cordial, informative place where we can all get together without the fear of personal attacks, rampant bullying or outright betrayal at the hands of our peers.

Like many bloggers, I cut my teeth on message boards, although mainly in the slightly gentler waters of the Yahoo Groups community. I later went through a phase of using the group chat boards on Soulseek, which was a whole different way of doing things - ruff, instantaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-yer-pants shit that was, for a while, a total rush. Although I often read ILM threads I've never felt compelled to delve into the cut'n'thrust dynamic of that particular scene.

It's slightly ironic that self-confessed "mean, ugly person", Matt 'Woebot' Ingram should be the architect of this new venture. Of all the blogging community, it's Matt who I most fear the wrath of. His inherent ability to sniff out the bullshit, acting as the 'thought police' of the blogosphere, keeps me on my toes. If ever I think Gutterbreakz is losing focus or one of my posts in lacking something, I think to myself 'would Matt approve'? He makes me question my reasons for blogging, keeps me on my toes, makes sure I remain true to my convictions and ideals. And here he is, extending the hand of friendship to all and sundry. I guess that's because, despite his sometimes provocative (even antagonistic) swipes at the community*, it's all done with love. Tuff Love. You see, Matt really cares.

Also it's great that Mark K-Punk is joint administrator. I was feeling almost 'left out in the cold' by K-Punk recently. It seemed like the K-Punk Kollective was developing into an hermetic sphere which, although fascinating to read, was a place that was too intellectually intimidating (and too difficult due to comments box restrictions) for me to participate in. But then suddenly he not only gives me a big shout-out, but commits himself to overseeing the long term 'health' of this community by moderating the new forum which, with him and Matt at the helm will, I'm sure, be a fruitful and positive venture.

Lastly, I'd just like to say a big 'thanks' to everyone who's said nice things about Gutterbreakz recently. Special mention to Derek Pop Life for his enthusiasm for my '80s week. Judging by the bandwidth activity, my Mantronik/Latin Rascals posts were very popular - the amount of MP3 downloads actually doubled last week! I reckon I could rinse at least another month's worth of material reveling in '80's dance/pop stuff, but I don't want to be typecast. Things really dipped to a trickle this Monday with my Cabaret Voltaire post, which maybe proves that which I've always suspected: people like the fact that the Cabs existed, but they don't really want to have to listen to the bloody stuff! I was also very chuffed and relieved that resident Grime enthusiast Simon SilverDollarCircle approved of my latest effort. No new MP3's today, 'cos I'm feeling like shit with this stinking cold, so I'm giving myself the day off.

*I should add that Matt has never actually had a go at me personally!

12 October 2004

Thanks to Jacob in Singapore for making himself known to me. He's got an MP3 blog called Bryron Bitchlaces, which occasionally hosts Grime MP3's. His latest offering is Roll Deep's "Poltergeist Relay". Nice!

In another recent post he takes up the thread concerning the use of the bassline from Cymande's "Bra" in early House tracks (which was briefly discussed in my 'Jacktrax' post's comments box last week) and has an MP3 of the track on offer.


If anyone down at my local pub wants to know anything about Grime, then I'm the man to ask. Most people in my 'hood wouldn't know a Grime tune if it sneaked up and popped a cap in their ass. Grime's a London ting, innit? In reality I'm weeks, or perhaps months, behind what's going on in the scene(s), I just do my best to try and keep an eye on major developments, almost exclusively via blogs. If you really want to know what's hot in Grimeworld, then you must check-in regularly at SilverDollarCircle. It's not an MP3 blog, but it doesn't need to be. Simon's evocative descriptions and boundless enthusiasm for the genre are enough to get me salivating with desire. Other pro-Grime blogs like Kid Shirt, Blissblog, Pop Life and Woebot will occasionally impart words of wisdom on the subject. I'm not aware of any MP3 blogs that regularly champion Grime tracks (and if you're out there, please make yourselves known to me), so I'm sort of filling in some of the basics here.

For me to try to write authoritatively on the subject of Grime would be a fucking joke, but I feel that I need to say something about it in my bid to cover the most exciting new sounds in the world of electronic/dance music, so I'm going to attempt to explain the genre as best I can. This is for my own benefit more than anything else - a way for me to organise my thoughts on the matter -but which may also prove to be a useful starting point for the Grime-curious out there.

Wot Do U Call It?

One of the first hurdles to overcome is to define what Grime actually sounds like, who the major players are and so forth. This is complicated by the fact that there appears to be two distinct schools of Grime - the East London 'Roll Deep' axis and the more geographically diverse group of Rephlex-affiliated artists. Both have a similar pallet of sounds and beats, though the Roll Deep style is generally more rooted in hip-hop tradition, being an uneasy alliance of 'Crews', fronted by MC's, yet with a curious, almost naive sense of pop melody. Rephlex Grime tends to be 'trackier' (ie, instrumental), dark 'n' moody and made by 'lone-wolf' bedroom producers.

To complicate things even more, the name 'Grime' itself is a subject of much heated debate. I believe the term originated from the Roll Deep Crew's central figure, Wiley, although he now prefers to call it 'EskiBeat'. Some people simply feel that the name, with it's scummy, unclean imagery is unsuitable for a sound that is so clean, burnished and digital. Perhaps 'Gleam' would be a better description?! But I guess 'Grime' sums-up the ghetto-centric origins of the genre and seems to have stuck as the most recognisable brand-name.

How big is Grime?

As I said, most people I know in Bristol haven't even heard of a genre called Grime. Perhaps my obsessive blog-reading is giving me a distorted view of it's importance. It certainly doesn't appear to be making a big impact in the mainstream media in the way that, say, Acid House or the first wave of UK Garage did. The most high-profile artist to emerge is former Wiley protege Dizzie Rascal who, like Ronnie Size before him, has seen his stock increase since his debut album "Boy In Da Corner" won last year's Mercury Music Prize. Still, my wife's never heard of him (not that that means much, to be honest). I think it's fair to say that Grime is still very much an underground scene, focused in London but with pockets of enthusiasm dotted around various parts of the UK and beyond. No doubt Bristol has it's own Grime-aware scenesters, I just haven't met any of them. This is sort of proved by the small but varied Grime section at Rooted Records on Gloucestershire Road (Kek-W take note!)

Today, I'm going to focus my attention on the 'original' East London Grime scene. You might like to read SilverDollarCircle's "Grime Survival Guide" over at Stylus for a more authoritive view, as Simon's taste in Grime is very biased towards the Roll Deep axis.

The way they were: Roll Deep Crew in April 2003. L-R, Karnage, Breeze, Flow Dan, Wiley, Jamakabi, Danny Weed, Bionics, Dizzee Rascal, Bubbles

My first exposure to this scene was in April last year, when I read a two-page article in (the now sadly defunct) Muzik magazine about Roll Deep. Chantelle Fiddy took the angle that Wiley and Co. were coming to claim So Solid Crew's UK Garage crown, which suggests that Roll Deep were still considered to be a straight UKG act, as opposed to a whole new mutant strain. Interestingly, there's no reference yet to the terms 'Grime' or 'Eski' here, although mention is made of Wiley's genre-defining 'Eskimo' track.

MP3: Wiley - Eskimo

The Muzik feature holds Wiley entirely responsible for the upsurge in instrumental tunes in the UKG scene and by all accounts this track electrified the crowds when it came out. Being more inclined to 'tracky' stuff anyway, it was this sort of vocal-less approach that first attracted me. "Eskimo" features the first example of that distinctive hollow synth-bass that is so crucial to the Grime sound. There's also a second bleepy riff that reminds me of early LFO and a sort of eastern-tinged melody that sounds like an old Mellotron flute sample. Simon makes the point that Grime sees a return to riff-based tracks, whereby the music is propelled by the keyboard parts, with the percussive elements providing a secondary counter-rhythm. "Eskimo" also illustrates the very clean, almost transparent production values that typify the genre, with very little in the way of signal processing (echo, reverb etc) or abrasive textures. It's a very pure, crystalline sound similar to early Bleep 'n Bass. I really rate Wiley's instrumental versions - I could just fill this post with 'em! "Ice Pole", "Snow Cat", "Eski Boy","Shanghai"....it's all gold.

MP3: Wiley & Dizzee Rascal - Ice Rink

The other tune namechecked in the Muzik article, dominated by Dizzee's incendiary rhymes, reveals that MC-driven Grime is perhaps the most successful/convincing British alternative to American Rap yet. Although there are hints of Dancehall/Hip Hop tradition in Dizzee's delivery, the end product is explosively original and it's no surprise that he went on to become the nearest thing so far to a Grime 'superstar'. This track serves as a reminder of what a brilliant combination of talent Wiley and Dizzee had together. It's a shame that they seem to be taking verbal swipes at each other these days, but I don't want to go into all the internal politics stuff so enough said..

MP3: Danny Weed - Creeper (Part 1)

Another of the Roll Deep Crew, so called due to former chronic smoking habit. This is a nice little instrumental cut that highlights Grime's penchant for spiky orchestral stabs, the sort of synthetic approximations of real instruments that you can get straight off any sound-module. These little orchestral riffs remind me of things like Yello's "The Race". Like Wiley, Danny uses these sort of ready-made sounds in a very straightforward, unselfconscious way, building just a basic arrangement, leaving the listener to fill in the blanks mentally. He's also added his own little touch here - a dubby element, flying in bits of echo-drenched 'found dialogue' which is very Richard H. Kirk and so of course highly endorsed by me.

MP3: Wiley - Problems

One more from the master, to demonstrate his unique abilities as an MC. Though not as sharp or startling as Dizzie's delivery, I find his technique really refreshing. Although much is made of Wiley's claim to feel 'cold' inside (conjuring romantic images of a wintry shadow crossing his heart), I feel a lot of warmth and humanity in his rhymes. Rarely does he resort to blustering belligerence. He tends to reveal a surprising amount of his inner feelings and elements of his personal life, maybe a little too much sometimes. This track comes from the CD single "Wot Do U Call It?", which preceded his XL debut album "Treddin' On Thin Ice" earlier this year. It's a really heartfelt relationship song, where Wiley is trying to reconcile his hectic Grimey lifestyle with the needs of his lady friend. We've all been there at some point, right?

MP3: Lethal B. - Forward Riddim

There's so much Roll Deep output to cover, it's a mini essay on it's own. But there are several other Crews who have followed Wiley's lead, who I'm still trying to assimilate and document. This will have to be the subject of a future 'GSI' feature. For now here's a track by the main player in the More Fire Crew, Lethal B. This is a really rampant, dramatic tune propelled by manic 808 handclaps, spiky fairground organ riff and a relentless barrage of rhymes from Mr. B and Crew, which has been one of the biggest Grime tracks this year. Hold on tight, it's a white-knuckle ride...


Easiest to obtain at Amazon and the like are Wiley's "Treddin' On Thin Ice" and Dizzie Rascal's "Boy In Da Corner" and "Showtime" (all on XL). As for the rest, it's still an underground thing so best to trudge off to your local independent dance music specialist record shop and flick through the twelve-inchers in the Grime section (if it has one!) or surf around for MP3's - there's some cool DJ sets at Soundclick. Happy hunting!

11 October 2004


Doublevision Present Cabaret Voltaire
(Mute DVD, approx. 85 minutes)

It seems faintly ridiculous to be watching these primitive, grainy, lo-rez video montages on pristine DVD format, but the fact remains that this is a vital document of one of the earliest independently produced long-form video compilations. In any case, the degraded textures on display provide a refreshing contrast to the clean, digitally-enhanced images of the modern world. Occasionally I see 'arty' stuff in the media that seems to be emulating these early D.I.Y. experiments, and I like to think that they've been quietly influential to some of today's film makers.

Doublevision was conceived in 1982, by Cabaret Voltaire and Paul Smith, as an outlet for affordable music-based video releases and over the next few years they released landmark works by Throbbing Gristle, Derek Jarman, The Residents, 23 Skidoo, Einsturzende Neubauten and others. The label subsequently expanded to release music-only material by artists such as Lydia Lunch, Clock DVA, The Hafler Trio and Chakk.

MP3: Cabaret Voltaire - Doublevision Theme

Doublevision Present Cabaret Voltaire was the label's first release. It includes all St. John Walker's visual representations of the Cabs classics like "Nag Nag Nag", "Obsession", "Seconds Too Late" and "Photophobia", an extract from Peter Care's short film "Johnny Yesno" (for which the Cabs provided the soundtrack) and a host of other experimental montages by Kirk & Mallinder themselves. Applying the same approach to 'found material' that they used in their music, most of these feature an intriguing flow of images culled from film and television, cut together with self-recorded images of the group in various settings. The result is a confounding barrage of visual stimulation, ranging from the provocatively extreme (police brutality, riots, religious extremists, accident victims, hardcore pornography) to the banal (sci-fi B-movies, the Cabs' holiday footage and...hardcore pornography).

MP3: Cabaret Voltaire - Diskono

Perhaps the easiest way to explain the ethos behind it all is to reproduce an extract from Mick Fish's Cabs book "The Art Of The Sixth Sense", where he discusses the methodology in some detail with Kirk and Mallinder, who have always been very honest and forthright when it comes to explaining their work. Although long out of print, all the interview material is included as an appendix in Fish's latest excellent book "Industrial Evolution - Through The '80s with Cabaret Voltaire", where he recounts his days as a member of the Cabs' entourage.

As a group you have always put a heavy emphasis on the visual side of your presentation. This culminated in your own video label Doublevision. You obviously considered that there was scope for an independent video label at that time?

Mal: Yes, as we progressed we realised that we were in the position to achieve some of the things that other people had talked about. In particular, the link between the music and the use of visuals, film and video. In our own quiet way we found that we were able to fill a gap in a practical way.

When you set up Doublevision you presumably had a lot of footage accumulated that you had used in live performance over the years. Your first video release, like a lot of the films you use live, contained a great variety of footage including the violent and political as well as fairly anonymous imagery. Was it just a case of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink?

Mal: With the visuals it is very much like that. I don't think we can discard the chance element, the whole idea of the cut-up principle. I think that if we threw that out of either our films or music, we would probably make everything we have done in the past redundant. I think if we tried to synchronise the visual side with the music, we would be doing nothing more than the early Human League did. With us it is more a case of chance juxtaposition, but remaining selective about the material we choose to use.

So, it is more of a blanket presentation rather than trying to make a point at any stage?

Richard: That's true to a certain extent. I think it goes back to the Dadaist notion of being mischievous, just playing around juxtaposing different images and sounds and seeing what the end product is.

There would appear to be an amoral attitude in the presentation of a whole range of visual material which leaves people to make of it what they will. Is it important to you not to be making a particular point?

Richard: Yes, because if you take a moral standpoint it becomes something you are known for, a millstone around your neck that you may get stuck with.

Couldn't you be criticised for sitting on the fence and hedging your bets?

Richard: Yes, sure.

Also relying heavily on chance elements, aren't you laying yourselves open to the criticism, "Anyone could do that", or are you saying that you have a special instinct for it?

Mal: definitely an instinct. Only an idiot could believe that it was totally random. It all depends on what you choose to include. That is where you stamp your identity on it. The point is, we choose the source material, we choose what to cut up, we choose what to juxtapose.

Is your success at this selection process because you have a clearer idea of the images you want to portray, or because your instinct for imagery is better than others?

Mal: I would go for the latter, because we still feel instinctively what will look or sound right - or on the other hand what is not visually right for us.

Richard: I can't really explain a lot of what we do, I don't know why we are doing it half the time. It is only afterwards when I sit down to think about it that it makes sense. It is a very instinctive thing.

So, it is not actually knowing what you are trying to do, but instinctively feeling it?

Mal: Yes, exactly. I think if we knew exactly what we were trying to do it would be too conceptual, and we are not those sort of people. That is where we differed from Throbbing Gristle, who we were often compared with in the early days. They had a conceptual idea of what they were doing and what they wanted to get across. It's the same with Psychic TV, it is very much a game to them in the sense that they know what they are saying, and if you rumble that you are in. That is all very well, but I don't think we play that sort of game.

From watching some of your videos, it would appear to me that you have been fairly successful in throwing images back at people, especially news footage, that are familiar to them and highlighting those images in a different context.

Mal: I think what we do in a very primitive way is throw back some of those images. I don't know whether the way we use media footage actually works in terms of people recognising some of the biased and hypocritical aspects of the media - or whether it is just that the pictures look nice and they fit with the music.

You mean pure flirtation with imagery?

Mal: Yes, exactly. You can talk with hindsight about a lot of these things but I'm sure for a lot of people our use of imagery just looks nice. Maybe that is a lot of the appeal for us as well.

This goes some way to explaining my own allegiance to the Cabs' approach. I've never liked being preached to and often found the explicit agendas of groups like TG a bit off-putting. I value my status as a 'free thinker' (or perhaps terminal 'fence-sitter'?) and so feel more comfortable with the Cabs' incongruous messages, which stimulate opinions and emotions in one's own mind. Not necessarily logical, well-thought-out opinions, but mine, nonetheless. Kirk and Mallinder's gift was to open a portal in the mind's eye; to snatch seemingly unrelated imagery and fuse it together to reveal new meanings and associations that, rather than commenting on society, provided a more multi-faceted (and paradoxically clearer) view. That these images continue to resonate over 20 years later is a testament to their abiding power.

Buy the DVD from Mute Bank or Amazon

Both MP3's featured are available as extra tracks on the CD issue of "The Crackdown", available from Amazon.

10 October 2004

Stypod on Daryl Hall's "Sacred Songs"

Part of Robert Fripp’s infamous MOR trilogy, Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs found itself in limbo upon its completion, unable to be released because of its so-called challenging nature. Hall, who was consciously trying to reinvent himself outside of his more famous duo with a certain Mr. Oates, plunged back into duo work and soon found his commercial feet again with some of their best-loved material on Voices and Private Eyes.

That being said, while some of the work on Sacred Songs was undeniably pop, “Without Tears” being a prime example, many of the songs suffered from a battle between the twin impulses of Fripp and Hall. This push/pull can be seen no better than on “Babs and Babs”, which goes from oompah-pop stomp to Fripper-tronic guitar theatrics and back again over the course of its seven-minute length.
[Todd Burns]

Yeah, but it's that collision of Daryl's pop sensibilities and Fripp's rampant experimentation that makes this such a unique, fascinating artifact of '70s Artrock. "Babs and Babs" works beautifully in my view; Fripp's gorgeous waves of frippertronics gently caressing the song until eventually disolving into the dead-calm of "Urban Landscape"...before suddenly knocking our heads off with the awsome prog-punk dynamics of "NYCNY". One of the greatest segued song-triads ever!

Buddha's CD re-issue includes two extra tracks, the second of which, "North Star" features a true supergroup line-up of Daryl (vox), Fripp (guitar), Eno (synth) and, er, Phil Collins (drums). Did they all record their parts together at the same time? I wonder what they all talked about....

08 October 2004


I thought I'd conclude 'mid-80's' week with a real technological oddity of the era:

Todd Rundgren - A Cappella (Warner Bros. 1985)

Like Arthur Baker and The Latin Rascals, the first time I ever heard of Todd Rundgren was from reading the credits on a Hall & Oates record - in this case their 1974 album "War Babies" which I blew my pocket money on sometime around 1982 because it was going cheap at my local record store. At that time, "War Babies" was the weirdest record in my miniscule collection. Recorded when Rundgren was at the height of his belated LSD phase, his heavily psychedelic/electronic production techniques resulted in the most confounding (and no doubt poorest selling) album in the whole Hall & Oates back-catalogue. But again, that's another story.

I had no knowledge of Rundgren's vast legacy as an artist/producer at that time (he was always a marginal figure in the UK anyway) and it wasn't until 1985, when I read a review of his latest album "A Cappella" in Melody Maker, that he would enter my life again. It wasn't a very positive review. In fact the reviewer (who's name I forget) completely slagged it off for being an exercise in over-produced, self-indulgent wank. For some reason that didn't put me off buying it, though. And when I got it home to play it on my crappy little music centre, I thought it was brilliant. Listening to it again now, I reckon it's still at least 35% a good record. Put it this way: when I came across a secondhand CD copy a couple of years back, I jumped at the chance to buy it.

The premise:

When we talk about the early history of digital sampling, it's usually from the viewpoint of hip-hop. But what about those artists working outside that medium, who had no interest in sampling bits of other people's records? I can imagine Trevor Horn and his ZTT chums standing knee-deep in packing materials, staring at their new Fairlight CMI. "So...what shall we sample then, folks?" asks Trevor. Everyone scratches their heads for a few moments, until JJ Jeczelik pipes up from the back of the studio: "Er..how about the sound of my car ignition?".

When Todd Rundgren took delivery of an Emulator, the first thing he thought to sample was his own voice. But typically he was already making several conceptual leaps at once and quickly realised that he could make an entire record using just his voice. Everything from the drums upwards could be created using his vocals, processed through the Emulator. And so "A Cappella" was born.

The Runt: Microphone Fiend

Actually, there's about three songs on it that are genuine acappellas, where Rundgren uses the tried and tested multitrack method to create a legion of Todd-clones in perfect harmony. But it's the Emulator-enhanced tracks that really stand out. Admittedly, the single "Something To Fall Back On" betrays it's vintage by incorporating those typical novelty pitched vocal effects, whilst "Lockjaw" uses a dense layer of tribal grunts and chants to create a suitably ominous mood for it's frankly bizarre story of "an ogre named Lockjaw" who stalks children that tell lies and "nails their jaws open with a rusty nail, using his head for a hammer" (!?) .

MP3: Todd Rundgren - Blue Orpheus

This is the opening track which is one of the more artistically successful songs. Rundgren creates a dynamic rhythm track by sampling various plosive vocal noises - an inhuman beatbox. I always got a bit of a buzz from the 'drum break' section near the end where a flurry of cha-cha-cha's suddenly come in. Rundgren's lead vocal is as good as it gets - for me he's one of the great white, male, American soul singers, along with Daryl Hall and Alex Chilton. I'm sure many people will think that's utter bollocks, but it's just that I find that type of vocal particularly pleasing to the ear. If pushed I'd also give props to Michael McDonald.

MP3: Todd Rundgren - Lost Horizon

For me, this is undoubtedly the highlight of the album, the track where Rundgren transcends the novelty-value and creates a really beautiful, evocative, soulful piece of futuristic balladry. Using a gently undulating rhythm of clicks and pops with a sequenced baritone doo-wop bassline, Todd drops all the 'eccentric' lyrical themes and goes straight for the heart with a searching, plaintive tale, delivered with the kind of vocal presence that a group like the Junior Boys, great though they are, can only ever aspire to.

Buy "A Cappella" at Amazon.

06 October 2004


I don't cover enough black or female artists on this blog, so whilst I'm on this '80s/Mantronix kick, I couldn't resist giving out a little love to someone who's both: The delectable Ms. Joyce Sims.

Sims was already a talented singer/songwriter waiting to happen when she was brought to the attention of Curtis Mantronik in 1985. Mantronik was at the height of his clinical europhile phase at that time, but obviously must've already been harbouring ideas of making Pop crossover records. Sims was the perfect vehicle for his ambition. "All and All" was the first fruit of their collaboration and was an instant club and chart hit, peaking at #16 in the UK in April 1986. It's luscious blend of ice-cold electro beats with Joyce's sweet, soulful delivery hits my G-spot everytime.

MP3: Joyce Sims - All And All (Mantronik Megamix)

Joyce Sims - All And All (Mantronik Mega Mix) (London Recordings, 1986)

This is the killer twelve inch extended mix, where Mantronik adds all his extra little bells 'n' whistles. Sims' association with Mantronik was shortlived, although it would last long enough for the huge "Come Into My Life" to break into the Top 10 in January 1988. My twelve inch copy of that includes a pretty cool Simon Harris Megamix of "All And All" on the flip - but that's another story. Don't ask me what Joyce Sims is doing these days. I have no idea.

MP3: Gutterbreakz - B-Machinery

Thought I'd add this in conclusion. It's a bootleg mix of Sim's "Walk Away" and Propaganda's "P-Machinery" that I put together last year during a particularly intense '80's-obsessional phase. Have fun with it, or not....

Anyone who's been following the 'Defenders' thread over at Kid Shirt and Psychbloke

will know what I'm on about...

(There's only one thing worse than 'cloying chuminess' in blogdom, and that's private in-jokes!)

05 October 2004


After giving props to Mantronik yesterday, I felt I had to shine the spotlight on those other '80s 'edit-kings', The Latin Rascals. The Rascals were Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran, pioneers of 'continuous mix' shows on local NYC radio in the early '80s, who soon made an impact as producers/remixers in the US dance scene. Their shithot editing style was employed by everyone from New Order to Bryan Ferry. The Rascals' edit of "Bassline", was the opening cut on Mantronix's first album - and no doubt young Curtis was looking over their shoulders the whole time, picking up some hot editing tips on his road to glory. Woebot got briefly excited by the Rascals back in January last year. Although I've never really looked too deeply into their back-catalogue, I've been a fan of their remix work ever since they blew my head off with a Hall & Oates mix back in '85 (see below). Here's a little selection of Rascals old skool remixology, full of latin percussion grooves (strictly drum machine stylee, of course - like a more electro-flavoured Derrick May), high-precision stutter-edits and the kind of mad pitched vocal samples that are so evocative of the era.

MP3: Lisa B. - Honey To A Bee (Latin Rascals Mix)

Kicking things off in a gentle fashion, this is a highly infectious 'Freestyle' tune which I think sounds utterly...gorgeous. Hearing those jittery electro beats and flashy synth riffs again almost makes me think that Chicago House ruined Dance Music. Certainly this moves my ass more than the Vocal House tracks that came shortly after (Acid House is an entirely different matter though). The Rascals don't really make their presence felt until about the three minute mark when things suddenly go all Max Headroom (who was himself surely a by-product of the 'Edit' remix style?) , eventually leading into a nice mixing desk jam, with lashings of echo on the vocal, dropped in 'n' out Dub stylee.

MP3: Latin Rascals - Axel F. (Beverly Hills Version)

Not convinced by my recent MP3 of Harold's original? Then surely the Rascal's stutter-funk makeover will seduce...

MP3: TKA - Come Get My Love (Latin Rascals Mix)

Although they never broke through to the UK pop charts, TKA were one of the premier 'Freestyle' acts of the day - that tasty blend of latin-flavoured hip-hop/electro beats and soulful vocals which was huge for a while in the mid-80's (and probably still is, somewhere). There's a lush Mantronikish breakdown mid-way here that still thrills me.

MP3: Hall & Oates - Dance On Your Knees (extended)

I saved the best for last. This is an extreme example of the 'extended remix', where the short introduction to Hall & Oates' "Big Bam Boom" elpee gets stretched-out into an orgy of latino percussion and beat-fuckery. Check those guitar riffs - this is a true rock/dance hybrid. Hall & Oates had been flirting with 'street culture' since the "X-Static" album back in '79 (featuring the extended groove of "Running From Paradise" and a Ghetto Blaster on the cover), but their association with Arthur Baker and Co. in '84 was where it was most overtly stated. And I don't believe that their decision to move into the dance arena was in any way cynical or calculated - I vaguely recall a Record Mirror interview with Daryl where he spoke of his 'pride' that New York had spawned Hip Hop - they were genuinely excited by the creative possibilities. Although production & mixing on this track is credited to Arthur Baker, it's the Latin Rascal's extra editing flare that really tips it over the brink.

Post-script: In case you missed Dan's comment below, apparently Big Daddy Magazine has been running a feature on the whole history of the edit/remix phenomenon recently. I'm gonna look out for it...

04 October 2004


I've been following the "Turntablism" series over at the Idiot's Guide with keen interest. Loki and Kek-W's two-pronged exploration is fascinating. I think my first exposure to the concept of 'Turntable Manipulation' must've been seeing the video for Malcolm McLaren's "Buffolo Gals" on TOTP back in 1982. The general reaction amongst my family members (me included) was "what on earth are those men doing to those records?!" Luckily I was young enough to instantly assimilate this new form of expression. I still really love hearing genuine (raw) DJ techniques in action. Still, thought I'd better champion the other side of the coin - the DJ-studio-sampler interface. And what better way to illustrate it than with some tunes by my '80s Hip-Hop hero Curtis Mantronik.

I wrote a post about how I discovered and learned to love Mantronix (and some stuff about the cultural climate of my 'hood' (ie. a shitty little Bristol outpost called Yate) here, so won't bother going over that again. The fact remains, Mantronik was truly blessed with all the skills needed -turntablism, tape-editing, sequencing, drum programming and sampling - for some outrageously advanced shit that still holds up well when compared with the technologically advanced efforts of today's sound-manipulators. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Mantronik was my Hendrix.

As I've already revealed, it was Martin Rushent who first had the idea to emulate turntable techniques using the studio. Inspired by Grandmaster Flash, his pioneering work on "Love & Dancing" in turn revolutionised dance music production in the States. The 'hot' US producers of the day, like Arthur Baker and John Robie, pushed the possibilities further. But by 1985 there was a new kid on the block who could out-scratch Flash and out-edit Baker: Mantronik had arrived and nothing would ever be the same again. His first three albums with MC Tee pretty much wrote the rule-book on what could be done when the new sampling technology was pushed to the limits. The showpiece of the albums was always the 'Mega-Mix' - where Mantronik showed-off all his latest tricks in a confounding cut-up of all the elpee's best bits; a jaw-dropping excursion into the outer limits of beat-splicing perfection. I present all three here for your listening pleasure...

MP3: "The Album" Mega-Mix

The concept isn't fully in place yet - the Mega-Mix appears at the end of side 1, as opposed to being the album's grand finale. Using "Needle To The Groove" as the basis, this is a heavenly blend of 808 beats, Fairlight orchestral stabs, brutally efficient scratching and juddering stutter-funk dynamics. The edits are sharp but still relatively tentative compared with what's to come...

MP3: "Music Madness" Mega-Mix

Now this is where things get really heavy. As the whole "Music Madness" album flashes past your ears in an hallucinatory extravaganza of beat trickery, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was put together on a Powerbook. But no, it was done with...christ, I just don't fucking know how he did it! It's 1986, but might as well be 2006. Curtis's ultimate solo.

MP3: "In Full Effect" Mega-Mix

More of the same, but with a few more tricks on display, notably a hyper-fast crossfader effect that reduces the track to a shimmering blur of clipped audio fragmentation. Perhaps Mantronik felt that he'd taken this shit as far as it could go, because after this he dropped MC Tee, went into a slick R'nB phase and had a huge smash with "Got To Have Your Love" as well as producing some top-notch commercial electro-soul for Joyce Sims. Whatever the reasons for his change of direction, he left a legacy that would take years of software development to even get close to emulating. I can hear Mantronik in the music of Squarepusher, Kid 606, Prefuse 73, Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker".....wherever The Groove is being juggled in exciting new exploratory ways, wherever audio manipulation levels hit The Mind-Fuck, you'll find the soul and methodology of The King Of The Beats.

01 October 2004


(plus some bollocks about electronic music)

Along with Nicholas Fisk's "Trillions" and John Christopher's "Tripods" trilogy, I guess my earliest adventures in the world of sci-fi paperbacks were Target's Dr. Who novelisations. I used get so involved in them, I'd often read them under the bed covers with a torch, after my parents had insisted I turn out the lights and go to sleep! Back then (late '70's/early '80s), with no Sci-Fi channel or even video releases, the only way to experience the earlier Hartnoll/Troughton/Pertwee stories was via the books. Using the descriptions given by regular Who novelists like Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke, one had to use the power of imagination to visualise the scenes. And, of course, the cover art of Chris Achilleos.

Although it could be argued that Achilleos was merely skilled at copying stills from the TV series, that doesn't take into account his masterful use of composition, coupled with his affinity for bold fantasy art, that made each book glow with the promise of epic tales of intergalactic struggle - which was actually far removed from the reality of the budget-constrained TV series. Finding these treasures was as spine-tinglingly exciting then as any coveted vinyl score in adulthood. Funny then, that an artist who was so good at firing-up children's imagination is actually best known for erotic fantasy art! Go here for a peak at some of that nonsense. What follows is a mini-gallery of personal favourites from my collection...

"But Gutterbreakz," you cry, "what's all this crap? I thought you were a bloody MP3 blog now..." Well yes, I am. But this blog started out as a place for me to document all my obsessions, past and present. That remit has not changed. But, just so you don't feel short-changed, I'm tying this theme in with some of the Radiophonic Workshop's incidental music for the relevant adventures.

In the early days of electronic music composition, Britain was rather deficient in the pioneering stakes. The Yanks had a whole bunch of grant-funded experimenters: Cage, Babbitt, Reich, Oliverus, to name a few. France had Schaeffer & Henry. Germany had Stockhausen. Then there was the Italian school...and so on. Until the late '60s, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was just about all we Brits had! Then you have to take into account that they were working to tight deadlines, with virtually fuck all equipment, yet some of the sounds they created remain timeless examples of the early electronic arts. Creating 'special sounds' for a Sci-fi series like Dr. Who gave this small band of innovators a chance to really cut-loose and show what they could do with a handful of oscillators, a few bits of scrap metal and a two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Dr. Who And The Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke (Target, 1974)

MP3: Malcolm Clarke - The Sea Devil (1972)

Malcolm Clarke with The Delaware

Clarke's score for "The Sea Devils" is the most notorious of all the Who soundtracks. This is pro-noise Avant Garde electronica masquerading as family entertainment. Can you imagine just how frightening this must've sounded to those little kids back then? Clarke was a true maverick, bending the rules to suit his own twisted vision. This score was produced almost entirely using the British-built EMS Synthi-100 (aka "The Delaware") - an absolutely huge modular synthesiser - which was a difficult beast to programme. Clark threw out the manual and got down to some serious improv shit which made Throbbing Gristle look like a bunch of fucking pussies - three years before they even existed.

Doctor Who and the Cybermen by Gerry Davis (Target, 1974)

MP3:Brian Hodgson - Cyber Invasion (c.1968)

Brian Hodgson gettin' bizzy with the fizzy

Hodgson is one of the forgotten greats of electronic music. Nearly all the incidental Who sounds of the '60s were created by him. This is the guy who made the Tardis take-off sound, for fuck's sake! Although he was in charge of 'special sounds', due to budget constraints his otherworldly creations often doubled-up as the actual score! This is one of his more aggressive pieces, a relentless barrage of cyclic oscillator loops that perfectly reflects the inhuman, unstoppable march of the Cybermen.

Doctor Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton (Target, 1973)

MP3: Brian Hodgson - Tardis Computer (1963)

I couldn't actually find anything suitable to accompany this book, but I had to include it because I love the cover and I think it might be the first one I ever read. That's fucked that concept up, then. Instead here's a brief but sublime series of eerie swoops 'n' bloops that was a 1963 idea of what futuristic computers might sound like. It's like something from Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" album. Only better...


MP3: Delia Derbyshire & Brian Hodgson with Paddy Kingsland - Doctor Who Theme (Delaware Version) (1972)

Although the composer of the Dr. Who theme will always be credited as Ron Grainer, it was undoubtedly Delia Derbyshire's electronic 'realisation' of the score that makes it such an enduring piece of music. Derbyshire and Hodgson were from the old school of musique concrete - using magnetic tape to modify sounds. So when the Powers That Be asked them to overhaul the theme using the new Delaware synthesiser, I imagine they were less than enthused by the idea. And it shows. It's funny when you consider that analogue synths are generally praised for their 'warm', 'organic' qualities, that this version sounds so weedy and rigid. Clearly it was a piss-poor excuse for an update, and the Beeb wisely decided to scrap the idea and keep the original for another 8 years. What a waste of taxpayer's money! Today, this abandoned project has a certain charm. It's a curio from another age...

All source material from "Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Volumes 1 & 2" (BBC Music, 2000)
For more info. visit Mark Ayres's Dr. Who Pages